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Broncos and Seahawks Reach Super Bowl

January 23, 2014

The best Sunday of the NFL season came and went last weekend with Denver and Seattle emerging as conference champions. Both were victorious in great games and will now meet in Super Bowl XLVIII.  

Seattle topped San Francisco by a 23-17 count. It was dejá vu for the 49ers as their season ended the same way it did last year. It came to a close with Colin Kaepernick trying to hit Michael Crabtree in the end zone. That was the final offensive play of San Francisco’s Super Bowl XLVII loss to Baltimore and it was the 49ers final offensive play in their 23-17 loss to Seattle.  

The play on Sunday ended with a Kaepernick interception, but it’s hard to blame the third-year quarterback for the loss because the 49ers wouldn’t have been in a position to win the game if not for Kaepernick’s play through the first three quarters.  

Kaepernick

Early on, it almost looked like the Seahawks were afraid to tackle Kaepernick. The 49ers quarterback ran for 98 yards in the first two quarters, including a career-long 58-yard run in the second quarter. Kaepernick was almost perfect in the first half as the 49ers went to halftime with a 10-3 lead.  

But it all fell apart in the fourth quarter for the young quarterback. He turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter, a total that includes an inexplicable interception thrown to Seattle’s Kam Chancellor. The pick led to a 47-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka that put the Seahawks up 23-17. 

While Kaepernick was cooling off, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson began to heat up. Wilson’s biggest throw of the game was a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse on 4th-and-7 that put Seattle up 20-17. If Wilson messed up that pass, the 49ers would have taken over from their own 35 with a 17-13 lead early in the fourth quarter.  

Wilson

The AFC title game between New England and Denver did not provide any drama, Though the Broncos won by just 10 points, 26-16, this game was never really in question just minutes after halftime.  

Denver lost a regular season game at New England back in November. In that game the Broncos blew a big lead by allowing 306 yards and 34 points in the second half. On Sunday, the Broncos allowed 320 yards and 16 points all day.  Denver, behind quarterback Peyton Manning controlled the game. Overall, Manning threw for 400 yards while looking much better throwing the ball then his rival signalcaller, Tom Brady.  

I will preview the Super Bowl in next week’s column.   

Extra-Point Excitement  

What is considered the most automatic play in professional football might be coming to an end. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said earlier this week that the league is considering a proposal to eliminate extra points.  

While noting that there were only five missed extra points this season out of over 1,200 attempts, Goodell shared thoughts on how adding a play for an extra point would add additional excitement and suspense to games.  

One proposal that seems to be gaining traction is that teams automatically get seven points for a touchdown, but you could potentially go for an eighth point, either by running or passing the ball. But if you fail, you go back to six points.  

Without putting a whole lot of thought into it, I think I would be for this change. Think about it.   

A-Rod Is Not Wanted  

More time has passed since it became official that Alex Rodriguez will serve a record 162-game suspension. Arbitrator Fredric Horowitz’s ruling was announced two weeks ago, and since then A-Rod’s camp has filed suit seeking an injunction that would overturn the suspension. Both MLB and the MLB Players’ Association were named in the suit. 

A-Rod’s peers within the union are not too thrilled with the suit. Multiple media outlets are reporting that not one single player is supporting Rodriguez. This has led the union seeking to kick A-Rod out of the MLBPA.

Naturally, members of the union feel betrayed following the lawsuit. One quote I read from a former player spoke of Rodriguez needing to be scared of coming back to the game in 2015 and facing people he sued. 

Everything I have read and heard from legal experts in sports is that a federal judge is very unlikely to overturn A-Rod’s suspension. Personally, I don’t believe A-Rod will ever play again. I know there will still be $61 million left on his contract from 2015-17 following the suspension, but he will be months away from his 40th birthday by then. He will have also played only 44 games in the previous 30 months by time opening day 2015 comes around. What I see happening is that the Yankees will simply release him after the suspension and no team will sign him afterwards.  

It’s clear Rodriguez is no longer wanted in the game. Not by his peers, not by the league and I really do not think the fans will miss him.       

College Coaching Carousel   

The coaching carousel has spun round and round and there are now 19 new head coaches at the FBS level. I am going to spend some time listing my top five strongest hires (in order).  

Penn State’s Franklin

James Franklin, Penn State: The perfect hire to keep the recovery process going in Happy Valley. Franklin is a people person and that will aid the lingering post-Paterno tension at Penn State. He’s 16-4 in his past 20 games at Vandy. How many of you knew that or thought it possible in the tough SEC?  

Chris Petersen, Washington: Petersen did nothing but win at Boise State. And he beat some highly ranked teams. Especially during Bowl Season. Critics say he will not be able to recruit at the BCS level or that he will not succeed upon leaving his comfort zone in Idaho. I would answer that by saying that he maximizes the talent around him and that he will be just fine.  

Steve Sarkisian, Southern California: Sarkisian rebuilt Washington though he never carried the Huskies to a breakout season. Eight wins was the ceiling. Always known as a great recruiter, he now will have the pick of the litter at USC. I see Sarkisian thriving in Southern California.  

Charlie Strong, Texas: A good hire for Texas. Strong has succeeded wherever he has been. His last stop was at Louisville and the Cardinals were regular visitors to BCS Bowl Games. Look for the Longhorns to return as national title contenders soon.  

Charlie Strong goes to UT

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest: Clawson is not a name coach but he is perfect for Wake. Known as an unassuming and overachieving coach while in the MAC he led Bowling Green to conference titles and upset victories over larger schools. Clawson will now face BCS schools on a weekly basis within the ACC.  

I could not close without commenting on Louisville replacing Strong with Bobby Petrino. The Cardinals reverted back to its C-USA/Big East days to rehire a coach with a track record of insincere and questionable behavior who’s on his seventh job in 14 years. It is proven that this guy can’t be trusted with state funds or buyout clauses. Petrino may win games but at what cost to the program.

 


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Panthers Are The Talk Of The NFL

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